Facing the Gods: Epiphany and Representation in Graeco-Roman Art, Literature and Religion

Facing the Gods: Epiphany and Representation in Graeco-Roman Art, Literature and Religion

Hardback Greek Culture in the Roman World

By (author) Verity Platt


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  • Format: Hardback | 502 pages
  • Dimensions: 180mm x 248mm x 30mm | 1,139g
  • Publication date: 26 September 2011
  • Publication City/Country: Cambridge
  • ISBN 10: 0521861713
  • ISBN 13: 9780521861717
  • Illustrations note: 51 b/w illus.
  • Sales rank: 1,364,655

Product description

This is the first history of epiphany as both a phenomenon and a cultural discourse within the Graeco-Roman world. It explores divine manifestations and their representations both in art and in literary, historical and epigraphic accounts. The cultural analysis of epiphany is set within a historical framework that examines its development from the archaic period to the Roman Empire. In particular, a surprisingly large number of the images that have survived from antiquity are not only religious but epiphanically charged. Verity Platt argues that the enduring potential for divine incursions into mortal experience provides a reliable cognitive structure that supports both ancient religion and mythology. At the same time, Graeco-Roman culture exhibits a sophisticated awareness of the difficulties in apprehending deity and representing divine presence, and of the potential for the manmade sign to lead the worshipper back to an unmediated epiphanic encounter.

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Author information

Verity Platt is Associate Professor in the Departments of Classics and Art History at Cornell University, having previously taught at the Universities of Exeter and Chicago. Her research interests include attitudes to the sacred image in antiquity, ancient theories of representation, the relationship between image and text, and Roman wall-painting and funerary art. This is her first book.

Review quote

'Original and important.' The Times Literary Supplement '... a stimulating, wide-ranging work that that should be of interest to all those studying the classical world; it will certainly become standard reading for anyone with an interest in Greek religion, Greek and Roman iconography, or the literary and philosophical discourses of the Second Sophistic. Elegantly written and argued.' Jenny Wallensten, Time and Mind

Table of contents

Introduction; Part I: 1. Framing epiphany in art and text; 2. Material epiphany: encountering the divine in cult images; 3. Epiphany and authority in Hellenistic Greece; 4. The poetics of epiphany in Hellenistic epigram; Part II: 5. Virtual visions: piety and paideia in Second Sophistic literature; 6. Dream visions and cult images in Second Sophistic Linterature; 7. The apologetics of representation in Philostratus' Life of Apollonius of Tyana; Part III: 8. Dying to see: epiphanic sarcophagi from imperial Rome.